Unforeseen strength at the top of the Republican ticket motivated the maintenance of conservative majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. While Democratic optimists had anticipated winning the Senate, they narrowly prevailed in Illinois and New Hampshire, winning only 2 of the 5 seats they would have needed to claim control. While Democrats were not expected to win a majority in the House, they had hoped for more than the mere 5 seats that they ultimately secured. Republicans, however, celebrated widespread victories, which have resulted in conservative power in all three branches of government for the first time since 1928.
In California, State Attorney General Kamala Harris claimed a landslide victory over Representative Loretta Sanchez in the 2016 California Senate race, after incumbent senator Barbara Boxer declined to run for re-election after 24 years in office.
Harris enjoyed a substantial lead throughout the primaries and obtained endorsements from both Barbara Boxer and President Obama. While both Sanchez and Harris are lifetime Democrats, Harris created a much wider, less-partisan appeal, that allowed her to claim over 65% of the vote. She will serve as a Junior Senator along with Dianne Feinstein, and will become the first Indian woman to serve on the United States Senate.
However, California Representative elections contributed to general disheartenment in the Democratic Party. While many hoped that weakness at the top of the Republican ticket would cause moderate Republican districts to turn blue, none of the 53 districts changed partisan representation.
IDistrict 49, located in northern San Diego, which was widely perceived to be the most competitive California race, Republican incumbent Darrell Issa narrowly defeated Democratic candidate, Doug Applegate. Applegate, a marine veteran, has little experience in political office, but he succeeded in gaining over 49% of the vote in his district. Issa will therefore embark on his seventh term as a representative, much to the dismay of the Democratic Party.
District 7, in the Eastern Sacramento county, saw another razor-thin race between incumbent Democrat Ami Bera and Republican challenger Scott Jones. The two men were the only candidates to run in this election. While many doubted Bera’s ability to maintain his seat, he defeated Jones, winning 51% of the vote.
District 25, another battleground region, was re-won by incumbent Republican Stephen Knight. Bryan Caforio, Knight’s Democratic challenger ultimately attained 46% of the vote. While Knight has served only one term as a United States Representative, he successfully outperformed predictions, and won a decisive victory. He fundraised more than Caforio throughout the race, which evidently paid off. He is currently the last Republican congressman to represent part of L.A. county.
In District 18, the district in which The Valley is located, incumbent Democrat Anna Eshoo easily defended her seat from Republican candidate Richard Fox. Eshoo won 72% of the vote. She has represented the 18th Congressional District since 2013.
The California Congressional races ultimately disappointed hopeful Democrats, who had anticipated a nation-wide movement toward a Senate and House majority. However, unforeseen Republican fervor favored the opposite outcome. Donald Trump has truly incited a conservative movement that has left no sector of government untouched.
By Natasha Herle